The standard nine-to-five workday is now a thing of the past. Across the country, many of us are spending long hours in the office (or, more and more often, the home office) or on the job site. Beyond that, things like email alerts and company messenger systems make it so we are almost always on the clock.
The reasons for this are myriad. Businesses have an increasingly global reach, which could mean that you are working with team members around the globe. There is also a growing customer demand for immediate service and assistance, and of course, many of us feel a personal need to demonstrate our worth and dedication to the company.
The bottom line is, the work/life balance for many of us has become completely off-kilter. Unfortunately, many people do not see this as a bad thing – it has become normalized. Over time, however, this imbalance can have devastating effects on one’s health and wellbeing. Not only can it greatly affect your personal life, but it can end up damaging your work product and productivity as well.
This imbalance is an unfortunate reality for many people, regardless of background. For those who are under-employed, there may be a financial imperative to work long hours and neglect one’s personal life. And for those who are in mid- or upper-level positions, there may be a sense of obligation to the company or one’s career. No matter who it is, the ramifications are the same.
More often than not, your personal life is the first to suffer. Relationships with family and friends often go neglected. Many also experience a decline in their health or mood. By not giving your mind and body the time and space it needs to recover, burnout is almost inevitable. It will not be long before your work product and productivity are impacted – leading to decreased success on the job.
Many people will try to curb the effects of burnout by working even harder, or by increasing their intake of stimulants (to increase energy) or depressants (to unwind at the end of another long day). Over time, this only serves to magnify the problems, creating a vicious daily cycle.
It sounds counterintuitive, but by working less you can actually accomplish more. Something as simple as not checking email between certain hours will give your mind a chance to revitalize itself so that it can come back and start afresh. And while you may feel too exhausted to hang out with friends and family, making time for your personal life is a great way to destress and reenergize. Not only does this help to create balance, but it reduces the need to continue operating in reaction mode.
When we are balanced, we have the physical, mental, and emotional energy to think clearly and creatively; we are better at collaborating and strategizing. By having personal outlets, you can reduce your stress levels and keep your mood positive. All around, this makes us a better partner – to our family, friends, and colleagues.